'Issues' article urges bold action on natural disasters

Oct 12, 2011

Although natural disasters are becoming more common and more expensive, human and financial losses can be greatly reduced through incentives to purchase insurance and install protective measures, according to an article in the Fall 2011 Issues in Science and Technology.

Despite increasing losses from in recent years, few property owners in hazard-prone areas have purchased adequate disaster insurance, write authors Howard Kunreuther and Erwann Michel-Kerjan of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. And many who buy insurance often let their policies lapse after a few years. In addition, few property owners invest in measures to fortify their properties. 

Kunreuther and Michel-Kerjan propose a comprehensive program that creates an incentive structure to encourage property owners in high-risk areas to purchase insurance to protect themselves financially should they suffer losses from disasters and to undertake measures to reduce property damage and the accompanying injuries and fatalities from future disasters.

One key proposal is to tie and other protective measures to the property rather than the property owner, as currently is the case. This would help spread costs out over time and deal with the reluctance of property owners to invest in loss-prevention measures because the upfront costs often far exceed the short-run benefits. 

Also in the Fall 2011 Issues, Brian Bosworth, president of a Seattle consulting firm, writes that expanding certificate programs can help the United States counter a decline in the educational attainment of the labor force that threatens to reduce economic growth and limit national and personal prosperity.

Bosworth argues that for many people, especially working adults and low-income and minority youth, a certificate of occupational competence can be a valuable and manageable path to good jobs. He says there is evidence that completion rates in some of the best certificate programs are significantly higher than in degree-granting programs. And it seems feasible to quickly ramp up certificate programs. Some colleges in some states are already showing the way. 

The Fall 2011 Issues also features articles on the need for business to take a more active role in ensuring the nation’s cybersecurity, the potential of perennial crops in bolstering food production and environmental sustainability, and the declining dominance of U.S. science and what the country can do about it.

Explore further: Education Dept awards $75M in innovation grants

More information: www.issues.org/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan quake makes 2011 costliest disaster year

Jul 12, 2011

Japan's earthquake in March is set to make 2011 the costliest year to date for natural disasters, reinsurer Munich Re said on Tuesday, although the number of deaths globally is relatively low so far.

Confronting worldwide disaster losses

Nov 05, 2007

In the current edition of leading journal Science, an international team of experts argues that governments and policymakers worldwide need to take swift action now to minimise mounting losses due to future natural disast ...

Is man or nature at fault for Queensland floods?

Jan 19, 2011

This week's flooding in Queensland is yet another reminder of the destructive power of nature. Globally the costs of natural disasters are increasing rapidly, fuelled by societal changes such as increases ...

Endangered species rewrite approved

Sep 23, 2005

A U.S. House of Representatives bill would make it harder for federal officials to set aside swaths of habitat for endangered plants and animals.

Recommended for you

Research band at Karolinska tuck Dylan gems into papers

Sep 29, 2014

(Phys.org) —A 17-year old bet among scientists at the Karolinska Institute has been a wager that whoever wrote the most articles with Dylan quotes before they retired would get a free lunch. Results included ...

A simulation game to help people prep for court

Sep 25, 2014

Preparing for court and appearing before a judge can be a daunting experience, particularly for people who are representing themselves because they can't afford a lawyer or simply don't know all the ropes ...

When finding 'nothing' means something

Sep 25, 2014

Scientists usually communicate their latest findings by publishing results as scientific papers in journals that are almost always accessible online (albeit often at a price), ensuring fast sharing of latest ...

User comments : 0